The 26th Dixie Deer Classic was marked by so many worthy entries in the N.C. Big Buck Contest that officials of the Wake County Wildlife Club added extra awards to honor a pair of tremendous deer.“These are two great deer and needed to be recognized,” said Bob Wheeler, a long-time club member who manages awards presentations.
Normally the Wake County Wildlife Club gives one award per category. But it added categories in youth and best-in-Virginia divisions for non-typical and archery bucks, respectively.
The top N.C. deer at this year’s Classic was Brent Mabrey’s state-record Halifax County non-typical bow kill, which measured 176 6/8 inches and broke the existing record by more than 10 inches. Mabrey’s buck was featured during Nov. 2005 in North Carolina Sportsman Magazine.
The best bow-killed typical award went to Matthew Rummage for a 137 2/8 Person County buck.
Stephen Murray of Durham, a youngster featured in North Carolina Sportsman’s February “Deer of the Year” issue, earned an extra youth division award (for non-typical deer) for his 21-point Granville County buck that scored 155 4/8 points. Also, Brian Lytton entered a bow-killed monster taken in Pulaski County, Va., that totaled 193 3/8 points, easily qualifying for the Boone-and-Crockett record book.
The typical-by-gun youth award went to 10-year-old Jordan Barnes for a Rockingham County buck that totaled 148 4/8 inches.
In Virginia, Chad Coley’s typical 10-pointer taken with a gun in Mecklenburg County earned B&C status too, as it had 170 inches of antlers.
The best-by-gun typical rack buck taken in North Carolina during 2005 was a 163 5/8-inch deer shot by Kenneth Burchfield in Union County.
Tommy Ayers bagged the No. 1 non-typical with a gun, a 172 3/8-inches Surry County entry.
The top typical-by-muzzleloader deer came from Gary Setzer of Hudson, who traveled to Granville County to shoot a 168 3/8 buck — the Dixie Deer Classic’s No. 2 all-time N.C. typical muzzleloader trophy.
Strangely enough, Lindsey Watkins, who holds the No. 1 typical muzzle-loader record for a Granville buck that totaled 170 5/8 inches, attended the Classic to receive the President’s Award. Watkins killed his trophy in 1987 but didn’t have the rack scored at the 1988 Dixie Deer Classic. Scored several years later by a certified B&C scorer, Watkins’ trophy became the state’s official top typical muzzleloader buck. So the Wake County Club decided to honor his accomplishment 19 years later.
Neal Alford of Wake County downed a 154 1/8 buck to earn the best non-typical-with-a-muzzleloader category.
Cheri Chapman earned the best-by-female-hunter division with a 128 1/8 Wilkes County buck.
Bradley Dunn found a deer skull with 162 2/8 inches of antlers in Johnston County to earn the non-hunting award.
Chester Conner of Plymouth, while hunting in Illinois, downed a 203 5/8-point buck that earned best-in-show honors.
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